A Scriptural Study Newsletter edited by Elder Vernon Johnson

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

 

 

 

Foreknow

The covenant of redemption reads in Rom. 8:28 30, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."

In our last essay we considered God's foreknowledge of all things. In this essay we will look at a limited specific aspect of God's foreknowledge, i.e., "whom he did foreknow." The scriptures tell us that God knows all things, therefore he knows all things past, present, and future. Thus he knows about all people who ever have or ever will live on the face of the earth. However, the "foreknow" in the covenant of redemption is not speaking about God knowing about all people, but is speaking about a very specific portion of those who have or will live on the earth.

We read what Jesus said in Matt. 7:21 23, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

The Lord told these who were claiming to prophesy in his name, cast out devils, in his name, and to do many wonderful works in his name that he never knew them. This certainly isn't to say that he never had knowledge of them or that he never knew about what they had claimed to have done. But it is teaching us that he never appointed them to do the works they were claiming they had done. Thus the Lord said, "I never knew you."

The Lord knows about all people and all things, though he has not appointed all people and everything that comes to pass. As pertaining to things the scriptures say that "God is not the author of confusion."  Certainly he knows about confusion and sin, but he is not the cause of
confusion and sin.

Our understanding of how God foreknew a people is illustrated for us in Jer. 1:5 when the Lord said unto Jeremiah, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I  sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." As we have pointed out before God knows about all people but he has only appointed some. God knew Jeremiah before he ever formed him in the belly. God knew him in a special way in that God had appointed him to be a "prophet unto the nations." This appointment took place before Jeremiah had any existence except in the mind and purpose of God.

Those that God foreknew in the covenant of redemption are those that God appointed before the world began to be his! Eph. 1:4 reads, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." Thus God made choice of a people before the world began to be his.

In future essays we will study on what basis God appointed a people to be his, i.e., works, faith, or grace. We will also consider that God gave these he foreknew to Christ to redeem and wrote their names in the Lamb's book of life and that they were place "in Christ" to fulfill God's covenant and look at the consequences of these actions of God.

We close this essay with a quote from I Peter 1:1, 2, "Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontius, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you and peace be multiplied."
 


Respecter of Persons

In several verses of scripture in the bible we read where God is "no respecter of persons." But we also read in Gen.4:4, 5, "And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect." Also we read in Rom. 9:11 13 "(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." Thus it is apparent God showed partiality to Jacob over Esau, even as he had showed partiality to Abel over Cain.

How can these, seemingly, two competing ideas, that God is no respecter of persons and that God shows respect to persons, be harmonized?

The principle Greek word translated "respect of persons" is "prosopolempsia" meaning "partiality." So the phrase that "God is no respecter of persons" means that God does not show partiality to persons. To reconcile the ideas there must be a way (ways) in which God does not show partiality to persons and a way or ways in which God does show partiality to persons. To understand and harmonize these ideas we must go to the context in which they appear.

First, we will look at those verses of scripture in which it is taught that God is no respecter of persons and see on what basis God does not show partiality:

A. Acts 10:34, 35 "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." Peter said this at the house of Cornelius, a Gentile. Before this, Peter along with the other Jews had thought that God was partial to the Jews, because they were Jews. But God showed Peter that he had a people in every nation. Thus God is not a "respecter of persons" based on nationality.

B. Rom. 2:9 11 "Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God." This shows that God does not shew partiality in reward or punishment based on a person's nationality (Jew or Gentile).

C. Eph. 6:8, 9 "Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same thing unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him." This shows us that God does not show partiality in judgment based on whether a person is bond or free or whether he is a master or servant. Thus God doesn't favor the master over the servant or the
servant over the master.

D. Col. 3:25 "But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons." In the verses just prior we read about relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, and masters and servants. Thus we must conclude that God is not partial in judgment based on whether we be husband/wife, parent/child, or master/servant.

E. James 2:1, 2 "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment..." This teaches us that God doesn't value anyone based on their economic status.

F. 1 Peter 1:17 "And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear." This teaches us that God is not partial in judging our work. Thus if our work is good, it will be so judged and if it is evil, it will be so judged without partiality to any one over
another.

Thus we see that God is not partial in judgment based on ones nationality, economic status, sex, societal position, position in the family, or whether he is bond or free.

In what manner does God have "respect of persons?" Let us now examine four passages that show us on what basis God has respect of some over others:

A. Ex. 2:24, 25 "And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them." Here we see God favoring or being partial to Israel over Egypt based on a covenant he had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

B. Lev. 26:9 "For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you." Once again God is favoring Israel based on a covenant. This time it was the covenant he made with them on Mount Sinai.

C. II Kings 13:23 "And the Lord was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet." Again we see God favoring Israel because of his covenant.

D. Ps. 74:19, 20 "O deliver not the soul of thy turtledove unto the multitude of the wicked: forget not the congregation of thy poor for ever. Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty." The psalmist is calling upon God to favor Zion based on His covenant. Thus we conclude that God shows favor to some over others based on His covenant. It is on the basis of God's covenant of redemption that he was partial to Jacob over Esau and to Abel over Cain.

Elder Vernon Johnson


The Seed of Abraham

The word, foreknow, as used in Rom. 8:29, means to know or appoint beforehand. As we have previously studied, according to Eph. 1:4 God appointed or chose a people in Christ before the foundation of the world. God's foreknowing a people is the first of five things (foreknow, predestinate, call, justify, glorify) God is said to do in the covenant of redemption (Rom. 8:28 30). This principle of God's foreknowing a people is taught in the "seed of Abraham."

When God appeared unto Abram in Gen. chapter 12 he began to make promises to the patriarch. One of the promises God made to Abram was in Gen. 12:3: "and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." This is further expounded to us in Acts 3:25, "And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blest." Thus the blessing that would come to all families of the earth was thru the "seed of Abraham."

God further promised Abram in Gen. 13:16 a multiplication of his seed as follows: "And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered." Of course, the number of the dust of the earth is innumerable. This principle is further taught in Gen. 15:5 as God told Abram, "Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to
number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be." We now know that the stars cannot be numbered for multitude. Once again this promise of a multiplied seed is further elaborated in Gen. 22:17 as God promised Abraham, "and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven and as the sand upon the sea shore..." One thing that the dust, the stars, and the sand have in common is that they cannot be numbered for multitude!

As God had previously promised Abraham that in his seed all families of the earth would be blessed so he promised again in Gen. 22:18, "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed..." Therefore, the promise of the blessing of the seed extends to all nations and to all families. If one family or one nation should not be blessed by the seed, then God cannot be believed, but of course, God cannot lie, and the promise is sure to all families, and to all nations.

An additional promise to Abraham concerning his seed was made in Gen. 22:18, "and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies." To possess the gate of ones enemies is equivalent to victoriously triumphing over those enemies. In comparison, Christ has victoriously triumphed over our enemies: death, hell, sin, devil, and the grave.

Now, we ask ourselves, who is the seed of Abraham to whom these great and glorious promises were made? The answer is found in Gal. 3:16, "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to thy seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed which is Christ."  Thus it is settled forever that the seed of Abraham to whom God made the glorious promises is Jesus Christ!

Next, we want to consider just how Christ (the seed of Abraham) is multiplied to be a great innumerable multitude such as the sand, dust, and stars so as to be innumerable. (Obviously this multiplication of the seed is not thru natural generation, but thru regeneration (new birth). This we are told in Gal. 4:28, "Now, we brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise." All I have to do is figure out how Isaac was a child of promise and I learn how all the innumerable host are children of promise! Isaac was a child of promise in the following ways:

A. He was promised to be born before his parents ever conceived at God's set time (Gen. 17:6, 21).

B. Isaac's birth was contrary to nature as neither of his parents according to nature were able to produce a child: Rom. 4:19 21, "And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform." Please note it was God who promised, and it was God who performed according to the promise.

Isaac's birth was not according to the choice of Abraham, or Sarah, or Isaac, but was according to the promise of God. Isaac's birth was at God's appointed time and was completely contrary to nature. We, as the multiplied seed of Christ are promised beforehand in the covenant of redemption (Rom. 8:29) and that before the world began (Eph. 1:4). Our spiritual birth is at God's appointed time (John 3:8) and is contrary to nature (Eph. 2:1 3).

In Rom. 9:7 9 the seed of Abraham is tied to the doctrine of election as follows: Neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but in Isaac shall they seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son."   Thus, we conclude that the children of promise (God's elect) are the children of God.

The multiplied seed is shown to us in Rev. 7:9, 10 as follows: "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb." This great multitude
which no man could number is the multiplied seed of Abraham. The end result is that all praise, honor, and glory is given to God and the Lamb for their salvation from sin.
 

Primitive Baptist